What's in a Name? That Which We Call a Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Though I’d never read anything by Daphne Du Maurier, her work is part of the pop culture landscape, thanks in no small part to Alfred Hitchcock’s film versions of two of her most well-known novels, Rebecca and The Birds. Based on recommendations from several sources, I picked up the former recently and found myself drawn into the dark and twisted world at Manderley. Rebecca tells the story of the second wife of Maxim de Winter and the family and staff who attend them, in particular the chilling Mrs. Danvers, who cared for Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, prior to her death. The tale is a psychological thriller, as the unnamed second Mrs. de Winter struggles to find her identity in the shadow of the first lady of the house.

Du Maurier’s writing is delicate and detailed, allowing the reader to become submerged in the world at Manderley. Her neglect in giving the narrator, the second Mrs. de Winter, a first name, is an effective device which serves to obscure the wife’s identity further, leaving Rebecca to consume the estate at Manderley and the hearts and minds and memories of those who live there.

A remarkable book; I’ll be on the look out for more from Du Maurier.


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